Traveling with a toddler is definitely a game changer from traveling with an infant!
Imagine … they’re mobile and much more expressive.
I wanted to ensure I was PREPARED before traveling the skies by myself, ALONE, with my 17 month old, Baby Charlie.
I searched high and low on the Internet. And below are my top 10 tips when traveling with a toddler alone! And what worked for us!
1. Purchase a seat for your child
Although Charlie can come on the plane as a lap baby to save money, I wanted to save my sanity instead! I’m so glad we opted to purchase a seat for her. The traveler next to us got upgraded to first class, and we were able to get the whole row to ourselves! We were only traveling to Boston, which was close by so the extra ticket did not break the bank.
2. Lightweight travel car seat
We have a huge convertible car seat at home – the Nuna RAVA. I did not want to bring that along for sure. I wanted to ensure Charlie was safe and comfortable in her purchased seat! And others have said that renting a car seat through a car rental was not always a positive experience. I didn’t even know these lightweight car seats existed! I decided on purchasing the Cosco Scenera Next, which is very affordable and easy to clean. We purchased through walmart and it came out to $40ish dollars. Did I mention this car seat was super light at about 10 lbs? I don’t know what happened but both ways to and from Boston, Charlotte fell asleep while the plane was driving around the runway before takeoff!
- Rear-facing 5-40 pounds (19” to 40”)
- Forward-facing 22-40 pounds (29” to 43”)
- Side Impact Protection
- 5-point harness with easy front adjustment
- 5 harness heights and 3 buckle locations allow for the best fit for growing children
- Machine washable and dryer safe seat pad
- Certified for use on aircraft
- Compact TSA friendly design for airport security
3. GoGo Babyz Travelmate Car Seat Luggage Strap
Purchased the extra seat for Charlotte, check! Got a lightweight car seat, check! How am I going to get through security and to our gate with a toddler, a carryon, personal item, and a carseat? With a GoGo Babyz Travelmate Car Seat Luggage Strap of course!
This luggage strap can turn your carry-on luggage into an airport stroller by attaching your toddler car seat to it, however I still brought my stroller! Wasn’t sure how this would configure since this was my first time using through the airport, and didn’t want to ‘drop’ my baby on the way to the gate. – I know I have overprotective mommy issues ha!
The ratcheting, quick release belt made it so easy to strap and unstrap when getting through security. Yes you have to take everything apart and put everything back together once they x-ray everything.
4. Consolidate your bags
Even though I purchased an extra seat for Charlie, I didn’t want to lug around 10 million bags! For our weekend get away, I brought 1 carry on for overhead compartment, 1 smaller carry on to store under the seat (this also acted as the diaper bag), and 1 mini backpack for my personal items that I could easily access.
On the flight home, we just checked in the carry on for overehead compartment since I didn’t feel like lugging it through the airport.
5. Baby carrier
This is a must! When my baby is free she will run! You definitely need this when getting through security. Two free hands to grab all your stuff and get it through the xray belt is essential! I felt like security stressed me out more so than the flight itself. If you have a baby carrier with a pocket thats awesome for holding plane tickets and luggage tickets. Yes I printed out my boarding pass even though it is available on my phone. Its just easier to pull out than your phone sometimes.
Charlie was very excited and happy in her very familiar stroller, going through the airport.
We made sure the airline we were flying with didn’t have a restriction on the size or weight etc. of the stroller and that the airline allowed for strollers to be gate checked! So definitely check out airline policies before booking! Also to get through security faster, if you can detach the seat and put that through the xray then it won’t take as long for them to examine the stroller.
Some airports usually have the big family restrooms which provide privacy and a bit of a breather after security. If not, I usually utilize the bigger stall. About 45 minutes before boarding time, I took Charlie to the family washroom to change her diaper. With Charlie in the stroller seat, I reclined her and changed her nappy right in her stroller instead of using the changing table.
7. Milk and Snacks
I had my arsenal ready. I had her gold fish and cheetos and pretzels. Just had these snacks in little zip locks ready for when she gets a bit hungry. She mostly just ate snacks before boarding the plane – because she fell asleep right before takeoff!
Milk is another story. I’ve gone through security with the premade 8 ounce formula before, but realized that just bringing 2 ounce nursette bottles would avoid the longer delay at security. With the 8 ounce formula they had to peel the label and ‘examine’. Next time I travel, I may just put whole milk in a container that will stay cool for 24 hours for a short flight. It will be easier for TSA to open and test/examine. And pack horizon whole milk boxes in the check in luggage just in case.
My toddler still likes her formula at night so the taste does not bother her. 2 ounce nursette bottles were the easiest for us to get through security or the prepackaged powder formula as well.
8. New toy or new book
Toddler entertainment. She loves new toys and any type of book. I brought a very small new book that was just “Charlie” size. She woke up when we were 30 minutes from landing. This kept her entertained for a good 20 minutes. And she doesn’t throw the books as far as toys. I did see online that someone would tie a string to the toy and hold on to the string as the child played with the toy. When the child threw the toy, she didn’t have to go bending for the toy – which I thought was a nifty tip!
There are parents that do not use the tablet for their children, and that is totally up to each parent I totally understand. Do what is best for your family! However, in my family this tablet is magic! Charlie’s ultimate favorite show is Puppy Dog Pals. Decided to download all the episodes onto the tablet. I didn’t even need to bust out the tablet because she was already entertained with the new book, snacks, and watching some videos of herself.
10. Power bank
Regardless if your airline provides outlets in between the seats, I still think its a great idea to bring a power bank to charge your electronics such as tablets and phones. There can be a flight delay etc. and just being extra prepared doesn’t hurt!
I hope that this set of tips will help you on your next adventure with your little one!